It has to be said: this is the most predictable/least competitive NBA playoffs ever.
The Cavs-Warriors trilogy was preordained the moment KD joined Golden State in July 2016. The bookies knew it. The league knew it. Objective fans knew it. The only people who would say otherwise are (1) the media—it’s their job to keep the season interesting; and (2) legacy-conscious fans of LeBron or the Dubs—they wouldn’t be historically great if they keep playing the Washington Generals, eh? Between them, the two teams have 7 of the 30 best players in the NBA today, each of whom made the All-Star team this year. No other team has more than two. If you’re keeping count, the Warriors have 4 of the 7, so naturally, LeBron wanted another all-star. Unfortunately, he had to settle for former all-stars Kyle Korver and Deron Williams. Needless to say, the King wasn’t pleased.
It’s not yet the last week of May and we’re almost there. We are getting the rubber match… that we knew we’d get for almost a year. Yay…??? For non-LeBronites and non-GSW-bandwagoners, sorry, but you just wasted your time watching 82 games and three playoff rounds. This is the product the NBA is selling, and it’s more predictable than WWE’s storyline. The predictability stemming from the lack of competitiveness is highlighted by the teams’ playoff records: Golden State is 12-0, Cleveland is 10-1. To be fair, Cleveland made it interesting during the regular season by finishing second to Boston in the East. But nobody seriously believed that the Celtics are the better team. Actually, I don’t know what to make of the Cavs, with their three all-stars, in a weaker conference, not even coming close to 65 wins. If MJ played with two other all-stars… I’m sorry, I digress.
Special shout-out to the Spurs, the second-best team in the league which had the unenviable luck of playing in the same conference as the video-game-cheat-code Warriors. They looked like they had a puncher’s chance of making the the Dubs sweat… until Kawhi’s ankle got Zaza’d. But would have they won the series at full strength? I think not, and Vegas agrees.
Boston fans hope that LeBron gets Olynyk’d, except that LeBron doesn’t get injured, he just gets cramps. Marcus Smart will not hit seven threes again, Avery Bradley will not get the same lucky bounce, and I haven’t even mentioned that the Celtics are already without their best player for whatever remains of this short series. Besides, they already won the draft lottery, so imagine how much more insufferable Celtics fans can get if they actually pull off the upset.
Predictability and lack of competitiveness make sports dull and uninteresting. And I don’t mean it from an aesthetic point-of-view. The Warriors can be fun to watch, but basketball isn’t performance art. It’s not theater, it’s a sport. Where’s the thrill in regularly watching a 20-point beatdown in the playoffs? The essence of sport is competition. You take away the competitive aspect and you’re watching something entirely different: professional entertainment. I outgrew wrestling 15 years ago, and the NBA is sadly headed in that direction.
The worst part is that the league might not be able to do anything about it. How do you change the mindset of the current generation of players who value winning easy rather than winning on equal terms? When the media normalizes such behavior, what can you do? KD has an idea: “If you don't like it, don't watch it.” He’s right, of course. That’s exactly what I’ve done all season. I haven’t watched a full game since the Warriors-Spurs on opening night—almost exactly 7 months ago.
Thank God for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Go Pens!